What You Need to Know About Kettlebell Sport, Part 2: Strength and Endurance

It’s no secret that BarBend writers are obsessed with strength, but I would be lying if I said that’s all I cared about. Sure, some strength athletes still look at endurance training as a saboteur of their strength, but the benefits of cardiovascular and endurance training, especially as they relate to GPP (general physical preparedness) are becoming harder to ignore.

Kettlebell Sport requires a combination of strength, power, cardiovascular and muscular endurance, coordination, speed, flexibility, and agility. There are plenty of studies out there detailing the aerobic, and anaerobic benefits of kettlebells. We also know that kettlebells can make you stronger. But what about Kettlebell Sport?

(Looking to learn more about Kettlebell Sport? Check out Part 1 of our series here!)

Unlike Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting, which are classified as strength sports, or Rowing and Cycling, which are classified as strength-endurance sports, Kettlebell Sport calls for sustained power output over time,  with minimal decrease in efficiency, making it a true power-endurance sport.

Most of us are familiar with the equation for power:

Power = work/time = (Force * distance)/time

In Kettlebell Sport, technique is used to allow the lifter to conserve as much energy as possible while performing the work, making the movement efficient. This allows for the power necessary to perform the lift to be exerted sustainably, without rest, over the 10-minute timed set. In other words, the technique helps reduce the amount of force necessary to move the bell overhead (distance), which in turn  lowers the amount of power necessary to perform the lift, allowing the lifter to perform it repeatedly and continuously during the timed set.

Let’s say there is a 5-foot, 56-kilo lifter, capable of performing a triple bodyweight Clean & Jerk. The total power for that lift is around 347 watts and 0.47 horsepower, or roughly the power of a centaur. If we have the same lifter perform a 10-minute set of Clean & Jerks (Long Cycle), with two 32-kg kettlebells, using the Girevoy technique, the total power for the set would only be around 128 watts and 0.17  horsepower.

{When it comes to horsepower, elite athletes can produce up to 2.5 horsepower for a (very) brief amount of time, and sustain a 0.3 horsepower pace for hours.}

A photo posted by Ice Chamber (@icechambergym) on

Comparing these lifts is like comparing macadamias and figs – they are both amazing in their own right, but quite different from each other. The heavy single will  help you increase your maximal strength, while the Long Cycle will improve your overall strength and metabolic conditioning.  

If we just take a look at the poundage, while performing the Clean & Jerk the lifter logs 369.6 pounds in about 5 seconds.  If we estimate 100 Clean & Jerks over the course of 10 minutes, the lifter would log over 14,080 pounds during the set.  The lifter would have to Clean & Jerk the 369.6 pounds 38 more times over the course of 10 minutes to achieve the same amount of weight lifted during the Long Cycle set. I can’t think of many other modalities that are efficient enough to allow you to move such a large amount of weight, in a relatively small amount of time.

What  first drew me to Kettlebell Sport was the apparent effortlessness in the movement, and the allure of efficiency. If you want to learn more about what makes the Girevoy technique so efficient, and how to start training, check back in in the coming weeks for all the juicy details.

Featured image: @icechambergym on Instagram